"Make yourself at home." This is the mantra of Luciano, where the owners want their customers to feel like family. When the Centofanti family immigrated to America from Italy in 1971, they brought their steadfast work ethic, passion for excellence, and the authentic recipes of the family matriarch, Nonna Lina.
Inside the kitchen at Luciano, cooks perfect these recipes, toasting thin, mozzarella-strewn neapolitan pizzas in Luciano's wood-fired ovens. They also prepare from-scratch pasta, such as the house specialty Lasagna Famosa with ground beef and rich béchamel sauce.
Dotting the Texan landscape with pizzerias like so many pepperonis in a hopeful meat-lover's garden, Goomba's ‘za joints bake up New York–style pies with ingredients from Costanzo's Bakery and Sorrento cheese. Dough made daily from scratch lays the groundwork for such classic toppings as italian sausage, mushrooms, artichokes, sweet or hot peppers, and anchovies. Pasta specialties such as cheese manicotti and baked ziti swim—like an eccentric millionaire—in a house-made tomato sauce infused with fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and a selection of calzones, salads, hot subs lends rest to the pizza weary. Daily lunch specials quell midday tummy rumbles from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and most locations offer both dine-in and carry-out fare.
Spicy pomodoro, saffron cream, gorgonzola-mushroom demi-glace—the sauces at Scuzzi's Italian Grill blanket the restaurant’s classic Italian entrees of smoked chicken, tender veal, and seafood. All entrees, including a 12-ounce rib eye, chicken medallions, and grilled jumbo shrimp on a rosemary-stem skewer, join tangled heaps of pasta that is never prewound onto forks. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are available as well.
Diners feast on these creations in the dining room amid corinthian pillars and arches and photos of Italian architecture hanging on sunny yellow walls. Over at the bar, four high-definition televisions entertain tipplers sipping specialty creations such as limoncello martinis. Outside, as the sun sets and a crane hoists the moon into the sky, lanterns illuminate wrought-iron patio tables and potted fronds.
Dough doyens at Capricciosas Gourmet Pizza adorn thin, crispy crusts with goat cheese, prosciutto, and other adventurous toppings praised by the San Antonio Express-News. Smoked oysters and spinach punctuate the Smokey, and, like a chef in a witness-protection program, the Milan pie conceals a savory pesto sauce. Though requesting a pizza that resembles William Howard Taft is inadvisable, patrons can customize their dough discuses with dozens of different toppings, including chorizo and fresh mozzarella. Slices share belly space with salads such as the Siena, which tickles prosciutto, artichokes, and goat cheese with crisp sprays of leafy greens.
In a small town outside of Naples, Italy, Nonna Lina lured passersby into her trattoria with the aroma of fresh tomato sauce and wood-oven-baked pizzas. Stateside, her sons uphold their mother’s culinary legacy, preparing her recipes from scratch with imported Italian ingredients. In addition to the authentic cuisine, the dining room itself hearkens back to an Italian eatery: guests order from chalkboard menus propped atop wooden barrels, and red-and-white-checkered tablecloths invite diners to play endless games of chess with condiments.